United World Colleges is recognised as the unrivalled pioneer of applied education for international understanding. Thanks to its successful approach, it has experienced tremendous growth since its creation. The movement has its origins in the ideas of the renowned German educationalist Kurt Hahn, founder of Salem School in Germany, Gordonstoun School in Scotland and the Outward Bound Trust. Hahn believed that people could overcome conflict and prejudice by understanding each other's perspectives and working together towards common goals. He envisaged education providing the key towards a better world led by future generations of open-minded people. This vision was put into practice in 1962, with the opening of Atlantic College in Wales. Hailed universally as "the most exciting experiment in education since the Second World War", the college drew students from all nations, selected purely on merit and potential, regardless of race, religion, nationality, background or financial means.
Thanks to the support of heads of state, politicians and personalities throughout the world, new colleges were soon opened in Singapore and in Canada, followed by several others in the following decades. In the 1970s, the concept of an international movement began to take shape and National UWC Committees were established in many countries to select students for the colleges and raise funds for scholarships. Currently, there are 17 UWCs and over 130 UWC National Committees (volunteer groups that work to find and select our future students) worldwide. Some 60,000 students from 181 countries have so far attended the United World Colleges.
Map of UWC colleges in the world